Why do dieters that shed weight put it all back on again? Did you read the article?


There was a fascinating article in the Australian Magazine a few weeks ago that grabbed my attention. It raised a few interesting points about losing weights, genetics and your bodies equilibrium.   The idea of the article was to explore why obese people that lose large parts of their body weight over a relatively short time (could be 12 months), tend to gain weight back on, even though they may be eating/exercising the equivalent of another person.  Essentially take a lady that is 40 years and 150kg. She loses 70kg over a year and becomes  80kg. She changes her lifestyle to become more healthy and exercise and starts to eat about 2000 calories/day (rather than her 5000/day previously) and she walks every day (rather than sitting on the couch), YET, she begins to put the weight back on and the end of another 6 months she is back up to 100kg…. What the????

It turns out that your body reaches like a kind of equilibrium, and that makes sense! You gain weight over a number of years – it generally doesn’t happen over night right? So each day, week, month, that you gain weight, your body adjusts to the little increment. Your muscles change, your metabolism changes, your skin changes, your joints change, your cardio vascular fitness changes – but these are all little bitty changes that would be happening over the course of many years are unnoticeable to you, but your body is slightly changing its equilibrium place to be that of a 150kg person.  Along comes a life changing moment and you decide to shed the weight. You do something dramatic and focus on it and after 6 months you are back to 80kg! Hurrah! Big snaps for you! But it took you 20 years to gain 70kg, and only 6 months to lose it? Well, your body still thinks you are a 150kg person, not an 80kg person. So it starts to creep back on. You don’t understand why! You eat and exercise the same as your 80kg girlfriend (who has always been 80kg).  So whilst your body is out of whack with its equilibrium, you also need to make more of an effort and EAT less than the regular person who has maintained the same equilibrium! The average for a woman is 2200 but you have to stick to 1700 before it starts to affect your waistline. 

Scientists are still trying to discover why the weight affected body responds so differently to a non-weight affected person, and it the time to return to a “thin” equilibrium is unknown too, but hypothesized as being years. But the main point that really and truly drove home for me, is that it is better to avoid getting fat in the first place. Losing massive amounts of weight is not only hard work, but exhausting and really emotionally demoralizing in the end. So never let it get that way. 

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